It is not always necessary to seek legal counsel for a Workers’ Compensation claim. Unlike personal injury claimants, injured employees do not need to prove fault in order to obtain compensation for their workplace injuries. Some injured workers can file a claim on their own, depending on the circumstances. However, most employees would benefit from the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer.
When is it Unnecessary to Hire a Lawyer?
The Workers’ Compensation system is designed to protect the interests of injured employees by providing them with benefits promptly. Therefore, it should be easy for workers to go through the process of filing a claim on their own, but this is not always the case. Some claims are straightforward and can be handled by injured workers without legal representation, particularly those that are undisputed by the employer or its insurance company. Undisputed claims are typically those that involve:
- Injuries that are clearly work-related.
- Minor injuries that do not require extensive medical treatment.
- Injuries that do not require the worker to take much time off from work.
- No pre-existing conditions affecting the same body part.
Even for uncomplicated claims, it is advisable to contact a lawyer for a free consultation. In addition to providing experienced legal advice, a Workers’ Compensation lawyer can evaluate the case and determine whether the claimant will be able to navigate the process alone. Injured workers seeking compensation will generally benefit from a case evaluation, even if they ultimately decide to represent themselves.
When is it Beneficial to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Certain circumstances indicate that it is necessary to hire a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. The insurance companies have an incentive to deny claims or offer low settlements, and they have seasoned lawyers working on their side to accomplish these goals. Injured workers may require legal assistance in the following circumstances:
- Their claim was denied. Workers’ Compensation claims are routinely denied with the hope that claimants will not appeal. However, injured workers may be able to obtain compensation with an appeal with the help from a lawyer.
- They were presented with a low settlement offer. Insurance companies often present injured workers with low settlement offers, hoping that they can avoid paying out what the claim is truly worth. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help negotiate with the insurance company to get a higher offer.
- They have a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions do not outright disqualify employees from collecting Workers’ Compensation. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help employees with pre-existing injuries collect compensation.
- They are permanently disabled. Employees who are unable to return to work due to a disability should contact a lawyer for assistance.
- Their employer retaliated against them for filing a claim. Employers are prohibited from firing or taking any other disciplinary action against an employee because they filed a Workers’ Compensation claim. A qualified lawyer may be able to help prove retaliation in order to recover compensatory damages, including lost wages and benefits.
What are the Most Common Workplace Injuries?
There are many types of injuries employees may sustain on the job, ranging from minor to severe. Some of the most common work injuries that require medical attention and Workers’ Compensation benefits include:
Sprains and Strains: Warehouse employees, health care workers, and others who frequently perform heavy lifting often suffer from musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in the neck and back.
Amputations: Factory workers and those whose work involves machines with moving parts may suffer amputations.
Burns: Fires and explosions in the workplace may occur due to combustible dust, hot work, flammable liquids and gasses, faulty equipment, electrical wiring issues, and other hazards. Burn injuries can happen in various industries.
Repetitive Stress Injuries: Workers who perform repetitive motions may develop repetitive stress injuries, including tendonitis, epicondylitis, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Motor Vehicle Injuries: Delivery drivers, commercial truck drivers, and other workers who drive as a part of their job are at risk for motor vehicle accidents. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States.
Overexertion: Overexertion injuries are the leading non-fatal injury event that requires days away from work, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Temperature extremes, high-pressure work environments, and sustained physical labor are all risk factors for overexertion injuries.
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Delaware?
All employers in Delaware with one or more employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. This insurance pays out benefits to workers who are injured or who contracted an occupational disease. Most employees are covered by state Workers’ Compensation; however, some domestic workers, independent contractors, and government workers may not be eligible. To collect Workers’ Compensation benefits, there are several requirements:
- The claimant must be an employee.
- The injury or illness must have occurred in the course of their employment.
- The worker must notify their employer within 90 days of the accident.
- The claim must be filed within the statute of limitations. In Delaware, it is two years for most injuries and one year for occupational diseases.
While other states require workers to seek medical treatment from a doctor of their employer’s choosing, Delaware employees are free to choose their own doctor. Any reasonable medical treatment, medicine, or equipment needed to treat the employee’s injury will be covered by Workers’ Compensation. A portion of the worker’s average weekly wages will be compensable.
Those who are temporarily out of work due to their injury may receive temporary disability benefits. Workers with permanent impairments may be eligible for permanent disability benefits, which equals to approximately 66 percent of their average weekly wage, but it may continue for up to 300 weeks or as long as the disability persists. If a worker dies due to a workplace injury or illness, their dependents may be able to collect death benefits, which equal up to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average pay. The recipient may also collect $7,000 for funeral expenses.
Can a Lawyer Help Me File a Claim?
Injured workers will likely benefit from hiring a lawyer to help file their initial Workers’ Compensation claim or file an appeal. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence, ensure that all necessary forms are filed by the deadline, and negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a higher settlement for their client.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Pursue Fair Settlements for Injured Employees
If you were injured at work or you contracted an occupational illness, contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our dedicated legal team will work diligently to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the benefits you need. Complete our online form or call us at 302-888-1221 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.